Wednesday, March 09, 2005
A conversation with . . .
Paul Clark and the Lonesome Drifters
go honky-tonk in the New River Valley
From left to right: Larry
Blacksburg honky-tonk turns 1 year old today — or rather the particular incarnation that is Paul Clark and the Lonesome Drifters does.
One of the offshoots of the extremely popular F-150, the Lonesome Drifters are staying away from their old set list and still are packing the house. And perhaps more importantly, they still are donning the snappy shirts and cowboy hats that Clark long ago claimed as his look. The band members recently shared their thoughts on their unusual musical styles.
The Lonesome Drifters is mostly a cover band, right? Are you playing any originals these days?
Larry Houghton: We have played Paul's "I'm the Guy" a couple times.
Is that from the F-150 days?
"I'm the Guy"?
Bill Richardson: "Who holds the sign that says slow down."
Where are you playing at these days other than the Cellar?
Bob Chew: We do occasional weddings, but we haven't really gone out to pursue other venues as much as we'd like.
How do you describe the kind of music you play?
Paul Clark: You could call it classic country, or you could call it honky-tonk . . .
BR: The whole idea of our music being dance music and dance scenes makes it honky-tonk.
PC: To me, I do this, and I've been doing it for a long time, because I want to somehow do my part to preserve the genre, because it's under attack and it's being forgotten every day. . . . We played a show last fall, and we had played an entire set of our music, which was predominantly Hank Williams and fiddle tunes and George Jones, and a young lady came up to us and asked if we knew any country music.
Casey Elder: Well, you know what people call it, what we play? Bluegrass, because they don't know what it is.
It's like the jazz misnomer.
If music is improvisational, and even almost complex, people think it's jazz. And people call old-time bluegrass, too.
PC: And that's part of what's good about this, is . . . being able to educate the audience as to what we're playing, who these people were, how important they were to what's being played today. And show them that there's an alternative to the music that's being called country music.
What's the scope of the covers you play?
We could play an entire set of nothing but Hank Williams when we first got together.
LH: We really don't play very many songs that F-150 played though.
PC: No, not at all. In fact when we started this group, we said we wouldn't play any. . . . We wanted to separate ourselves from F-150 . . . and show that we were a different band with different influences.
Who makes up the fan base for this kind of music?
BR: It's students mostly. . . . But we're trying to broaden it out to more the older folks. Everybody loves this music. They just don't realize it.
PC: And the students that do come, it's completely new to them because they don't have any exposure to it.
BR: The greatest thing about it is how many enthusiastic dancers we get every week.
Hey, Ken, I don't think I've actually gotten one quote from you yet.
Ken Convery: That's the way I like it, stay out of the limelight. Usually [at shows] when I go to pay my bill, they don't recognize that I'm part of the band. I'm like, "Do you think I go around dressed like this?"
Paul Clark and the Lonesome Drifters perform their first anniversary show tonight at the Cellar Restaurant in downtown Blacksburg.